Aug 20 2012

Our first few weeks of preschool at home

Well, I dunno if you could really call it our first few weeks, since what we’re doing isn’t that much different from what we’ve been doing before. For the sake of a starting point for reflecting upon, I guess you could say we started this preschool year at the beginning of August (following the local school calendar).

I can tell that one of my problems is going to be restraining myself from buying.all.the.things! I get catalogs in the mail and I think OOH that would be a really neat way to introduce this, or explore that, or so on. I was an overbuyer when it came to cloth diapers and baby carriers and if I don’t watch it, I’ll be an overbuyer with curricula and books. Oh. Too late.

The good news, is just like I did with diapers and carriers I didn’t want — I can sell things off. I did that with dipes and slings and I’m already starting to sell homeschool stuff I don’t want. Crazy.

Here’s my post from May outlining my preschool ideas and resources.

I’ll go through that list to recap what’s working and what’s not. First, what’s working:

:: The Virginia Lee Burton treasury. Love those stories. Worth owning for our family.
:: I’ve been using our public library to supplement children’s books we don’t have, but would like to read. Some books I’ve heard great things about so I figure I can treat it as a “try before I buy” deal. Total winner books I try to buy. For instance, we recently borrowed “Go, Dog. Go!” and the kids instantly loved it. I stopped at Half Price Books and found a used copy in great condition, so I bought it. Johnny ran and got the library version and asked me to return it so someone else could read it. Hah!

:: From MFW preschool: Vivie LOVES the shape sorter activity. We have it in a plastic shoebox to hold all the pieces and she puts it together as she wants and when she does, boxes it all up and hands it to me. The Wee Sing songs continue to be a hit. Haven’t done much with the train puzzle lately, but I should remember to pull it out of the supply closet.
:: From MFW preschool 3-4s: We haven’t done a whole lot with this batch of material aside from just playing with the pieces. Both kids like to work with the items. I need to be more deliberate about doing the activity cards since I think they do have good readiness activities.

:: From Timberdoodle. I thought these things would be sooooooooo fuuuuuuuuuuuuuun for everyone but they haven’t gone over as well as I expected. The kids will do the Day & Night puzzle and Johnny can do it pretty well. I do think it’s a good item, but their attention span just doesn’t suggest it’s something they want to do for very long.

The Hape Zoo puzzle is a lot harder than I expected and the way the pictures on the pieces go together make it seem harder than it needs to be. It’s a “meh” item for us for now, though that might change when they’re a little older?

The Big Book of Things to Spot is an entertaining book for keeping in the van. Kind of fun to look at the pictures but I don’t know that I’d go way out of my way to own a copy. A used one? Yes.

The scissors work sorta well but Johnny is now freaked out by scissors since I told him he had to be careful not to touch the blade. He will only use the Melissa & Doug plastic scissors. Pfft! I think the cutting activities in the pack from Timberdoodle will be too advanced for him for awhile but maybe will be fun later on. I should have skipped this purchase.

The Hugg-a-Planet globe: WINNER. Johnny has a thing for geography and we use it a lot when talking about where places are.

Magnetibook faces and vehicles: Winners. Johnny enjoys doing these, either by copying the cards or making his own creation.

The Imaginets set I bought is a bit redundant given what we already have. Same basic thing as the Magnetibooks, but just not as interesting I think. A regular ol set of pattern blocks for the ability to stack them.

I picked up the “Building Thinking Skills: Beginning” book from a used homeschool stuff sale since I had seen it in the Timberdoodle catalog and the mom selling it said she and her daughter enjoyed it. Johnny and I didn’t like the format and I sold it on Amazon. For a profit! I can see how these activities would introduce some different concepts to little minds, but it just seemed too academic and too formal for what we’re after. Maybe we’d like those books more when the kids are quite a bit older.

We have the four books in the Kumon First Steps series — Let’s Color, Let’s Cut, Let’s Fold, Let’s Sticker & Paste. Winners. At first, I thought I’d be anti-workbook (especially given my feelings about the book I mentioned above) but these are really fun for Johnny. He feels proud to have those skills improve and he likes me to display his artwork and whatnot on the wall. We do a few pages in whatever book whenever he asks about it or I invite him to do something. Nothing really scheduled.

His coloring shill and confidence are improving and that book is progressing the fastest. He really enjoyed the sticker book, and we’ve exhausted the sticker portion and now it’s time for pasting. He’s stoked. The folding and the cutting book are going at the slowest pace but that’s a-ok.

Depending on how his attitude and skills are at the completion of any given book, we can progress onto a “More Let’s Color” or whatever, or just the regular “My Book of Coloring” book, and so on.

I think these fine-motor skills are really nice to strengthen, and the books offer one way to do that. Totally optional though. I know you could do all of the activities with just paper and an imagination.

We also have a few of the Kumon maze books. I had torn out some pages and put them inside page protectors, but they quickly got mangled on the edges so I think I’m going to consider them a one-kid book.

Oh, note that the First Steps books are 4 -for- 3 on Amazon so you can save money by purchasing there.

Though the age on the books say 2+, I don’t know that a 24m old kid could do those with any independence at all. Vivie is only 4 months away from that point, and there’s just no way. She likes to scribble and color on paper to an extent, but a workbook? No. Even when Johnny was an earlier 3 I think he would not be ready for them. He’s 3.75 and this is just right for him.

I do realize that some kids would be ready for these activities earlier or later.


At first, I made things too hard on myself by trying to do some sort of curriculum that worked as a unit study. In theory, I like the idea but in practice, it just wasn’t happening. So, we play Bible songs while in the van and the kids enjoy singing along. We also are starting some Bible memory and Johnny shocked me when he memorized Genesis 1:1 perfectly after only 2 days and only a few repetitions of practice.

Even now, I can ask him “What happened in the beginning?” and he jumps into song, singing the verse to me. What! Putting it to a tune helps, but he can do without it.

I am using the verses from ABC Jesus Loves me (website) and the printable cards to cut out and use as a visual reminder. So far, so good. Now to add another verse to memory.

This post is getting long enough, so I’ll add more thoughts later on.

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One Response to “Our first few weeks of preschool at home”

  1. Wow! It sounds like school is very fun at your house…just the way it should be.

    My daughter is older and uses an online curriculum, Time4Learning, though it is for Pre-K through 8th grade. I miss the days when she was little and we did all the really cute, fun stuff.

    Best wishes this year, and by the way, I have been there and done that with all the purchasing of stuff I just knew was going to be great. :)

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